The Truth About Breastfeeding*

Breastfeeding seems to be a polarizing and controversial subject for some reason. It’s weird that people care so much about how I feed my kid. Hypocrisy abounds around the politics of the breast. I’m not really wanting to open that can of worms but I just feel it needs to be acknowledged. I especially want to acknowledge Westernized conceptions around breastfeeding and how it erases women of color especially but that’s for another day and another post.

*Ok, second of all… every woman has their own unique experiences around breastfeeding and there is literally no wrong path through it. This is about the truth of breastfeeding for me. This is for my daughters and maybe other women just beginning their journey. To have another side. As with everything else on these pages, it centers my own perspective.

I have six kids, three of them came out of my body, I breastfed all three to varying degrees of success and failures but the journey I’m here to talk about is with my youngest, she’ll be 1 tomorrow and what a year it’s been!

I want to say that I encourage breastfeeding, it’s an inexpensive way to keep your baby healthy and well fed. I will provide plenty of resources at the end of this for your reference and review.  I think every woman should try to if they are able but, if you don’t or can’t, that’s cool too. I’m not here to be sanctimonious.

G took to nursing from day one. Her latch, though shallow, was solid and she produced plenty of wet diapers to show for her efforts. I felt really grateful for this because I know, from my own experiences, this is a struggle sometimes.

I took a baby led approach to nursing, she let me know when she was ready and my body adjusted. That is how it has gone all these months. We fell into a pretty solid routine naturally and unless she is sick or something else is off, we stick to it regularly. She nurses a couple of times morning, afternoon, and night.

At 6 months we introduced solid foods, which she also took to enthusiastically.

I began to take a baby led approach to weaning. She tells me when she is ready.

I never expected, her being my last child, I’d want to stop before she did.

A year later, juggling 5 other children and a husband with a chronic, at times debilitating condition, has complicated this journey. I’m tired and there are times, I just don’t want to relinquish control of my body to a part-time nipple terrorist, who is entering mischievous toddlerhood and inclined to give me a good bite!

Sometimes she fights sleep and thrashes in my arms, with breast in her mouth, I’ve received several fat lips from head butting while breastfeeding. I’m tired y’all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been ready to be done with a feeding and she’s like, “nah, I’m gonna hang here with your titty for a quite a bit longer, you may want to cancel the rest of your day.”

*sigh*

The guilt just reading that back to myself, for saying it out loud, it eats at me. She’s my last child, I will never have this experience again. Shouldn’t every moment be magical?

prince

That’s not how this works, that’s not how anything in life works, at least not for me. It’s bittersweet. For the most part I am prepared to sit and nurse, happily cuddling my baby while she nestles down to nurse. Often, I move in to kiss her forehead and silently thank the universe for the moment.

Other times (most especially at 2AM), I grit my teeth through the experience, bone weary from a long day, from a year without a full night’s sleep. I grit my teeth and want her to be done….in those times her suckling grates on me. Making me, all of a sudden, possessive of my body, my breast, my nipple.

When she is fighting sleep, whining in my arms, irritated but unwilling to self-soothe, demanding I be at her beck and call. When her belly is full and she doesn’t need to nurse for hunger, rather for comfort, so she keeps popping on and off the breast like it’s a pacifier.

stop

It’s hard to admit this. I don’t want to discourage women from this path. I just need to be honest, this path isn’t always easy. It demands things of not just my physical self but psychologically too. I’m not necessarily, the most naturally, selfless person. I have to work at that. Even as a mother, a role that requires tons of sacrifice. I resent that sacrifice sometimes. That’s real talk. breastfeeding isn’t divorced from that.

It’s not always rainbows and butterflies and while, I’m not pushing her off the breast, I am trying to figure out how I can gain more control of my own body. I have a tremendous support system in my husband and my children and my village is amazing. That helps. When embarking on this journey, it is so important to build a support system. It helps get you over the bumps in the road. There will be some.

 

As promised here are some great breastfeeding resources to help you along your journey!

Kellymom

kellymom

Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine

academy-breast-feeding-medicine

World Health Organization – Breastfeeding

who2

The Leaky Boob

leaky_boob

Medela

medela

Black Women Do Breastfeed

bwdb

Lactation Matters

LactationMatters.png

NAPPLSC

NAPPLSC2.png

Over all this has been a rewarding experience, I have been allowed to bond with my girl in deeply meaningful ways. I’m proud of my working breasts!

Five Things I’m Leaving in 2016

I don’t do New Year resolutions for a bunch of reasons. My life is in constant flux and change doesn’t wait until the new year, it just happens.

Still, I like neat endings with all my loose ends tied and every to-do list checked off and completed in full! HA! I’m just kidding, that’s not how anything in my life works.

I want to be more organized. I even tried to start, keep, and maintain a bullet journal but kept forgetting to take time to actually update it. My bedroom looks like a closet exploded over everything.

I still have boxes in the garage I’ve yet to unpack since we moved in….6 years ago.

I’m not a type A. I’m more like a type Z. If I’m being perfectly honest with myself…I probably have adult ADD. I only complete projects I’m absolutely passionate about and even then…it’s a push.

That is neither here nor there however…all this is to say, the end of the year compels me to assess. I’m thinking about what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and naturally where I would like to go.

I am of course limited by economic hardships and lack of resources but, personal growth isn’t so much about having and more about being. I can’t really say what I might want in the year to come. Who the hell knows what is waiting down the road. I do, however, know exactly what I don’t want/need in the year to come.

Here’s my list of shit to leave behind in 2016….

Picking the wrong battles.

In a world lit up with all kinds of distractions, I’ve had a hard time staying focused. For someone who claims to want no drama, I find myself embroiled in it quite a bit. I could say, “I don’t look for drama, it just finds me,” and while that is technically true, when it comes I’m choosing to engage. This isn’t to say I should stop fighting. Hell no! Rather, I am choosing to be more selective about where and when and to what end I engage. I don’t need all of that stress.

My energy is more powerful when I focus it, instead of spreading myself so very thin.

Working for free

When I first began my writing career, I was eager to get my name out there. I had no issue writing for exposure or writing just for the byline. While, I still want to get my name and work out there, I am no longer inclined to do it for free. I deserve to be paid and I deserve it to be a livable wage. I deserve to make an income off of my intellectual property. Chasing money doesn’t make me greedy, it makes me smart. Demanding I be valued doesn’t make me selfish, it makes me savvy and if I were a man everyone would be much more willing to agree.

Well, I have come to realize my value and I wont be short-changing myself anymore.

Apologizing for my boundaries

Over the past year I made strong efforts to communicate my limits and set appropriate boundaries. Even with my children. It wasn’t easy. Some literally cussed and villainized me for standing my ground. This was upsetting but, it was important for me to end unhealthy patterns of behavior in certain relationships. I found myself apologizing often for this, “No, I’m sorry, I just can’t allow/handle/manage that.” followed by lengthy explanations about why this is. Having 6 kids, a disabled husband, no money etc.

“No.” really is a complete sentence and if you know me and love me, you don’t need an explanation or an apology.

Denying or delaying my own feelings 

Beyond mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, writer, I am a whole entire person with an identity completely separate from the roles I take on in my life. The way my life is set up, exploring who I am as an entire person, sometimes, feels impossible. There are needs that must be met before mine. I am ok with that, I love my children, I love my responsibilities and the love that oozes from my life is real and wonderful.

However, taking care of 7 people is exhausting. Sometimes I can even resent it and when I do I know it is because I am not being honest about my own needs. While it may feel impossible to take the time I need to connect with my own feelings, it isn’t actually impossible.

Impostor Syndrome

I have a voice. I have influence. I am a great writer and I plan on doing so much more in the years to come. In the past I would have laughed after each of those sentences in more than just self-deprecating humor. I would have mocked myself bitterly, regretful that I didn’t know this before deciding not to go to college. Really though, the only regret I have is treating myself and my talents so poorly.

I may not be everyone’s cup of tea and I may have come into my own by unconventional methods but, I belong.

Letting go of the things that no longer serve me is good. Letting go of things that hurt me is even better. I am committed to doing both, owning my greatness, and leaving the bullshit behind! Happy New Year!

If you are delighted by my content…show me your support and donate here!

 

My Identity: A Journey in Three Parts

Part I – My self.

I grew up in a nuclear household. A mom, a dad, a sister, and a dog (or two). On the outside looking in, we were a perfect American family. Working middle-class, public school, salt-of-the-earth folks. My dad bought a house in a Queens suburb with a yard and everything short of the actual white picket fence. Continue reading “My Identity: A Journey in Three Parts”